Tag Archives: director’s cut

Superman 1.67: The Gauntlet

Hey gang, it’s time for another round of What Did Mankiewicz Do, the fascinating behind-the-scenes game where we look at old drafts of the Superman: The Movie script, and figure out how script doctor and creative consultant Tom Mankiewicz solved its many glaring problems.

So far, we’ve seen how Mankiewicz made the Kents more appealing, took the corny sci-fi cliches out of the Jor-El/Lara scene, and made Lex Luthor stop chewing Kleenex all the time. Now we’ve arrived at the largest and most important structural change that Mankiewicz made to the script: taking three Lex Luthor/Superman confrontations spaced out through the second half of the film, and compressing them down into just one climactic face-off between the hero and the villain.

Now, you would think that having the hero and the villain only share one scene together in the whole movie would be a bad idea, but that’s because you haven’t seen the volcano sequence yet. In this movie, it was the right call. Allow me to explain.

Continue reading Superman 1.67: The Gauntlet

Superman 1.65: You’re Doing It Wrong

And he flies, soaring across the sky on wings made of wax and feathers and cables and front projection. He catches a reporter, a helicopter, a burglar, a boat, a cat and a very important airplane all in a row, and deposits each one exactly where it’s supposed to be, as the crowd cheers. He is here, and he is magnificent.

And then he goes home and gets yelled at by his dad, which I for one find intolerable.

Continue reading Superman 1.65: You’re Doing It Wrong

Superman 1.48: Feed the Babies

Now, if it were entirely up to me, I’d probably stop writing about this Lex Luthor scene at some point, rather than natter on endlessly about it, but I can’t help it; there are larger market forces at play.

Richard Donner ended this scene with Luthor and his sidekick Otis saying in unison, “What more could anyone ask?” But, as it turned out, people did want to ask for more — specifically, the Salkinds, who wanted more money from television sales. TV networks wanted to air Superman, and they were happy to have as much of it as possible, to fill up programming time and justify more commercial breaks. They were willing to pay by the minute, so the Salkinds prepared what’s now called the Extended Cut, taking a 143-minute movie and stretching it out to 188 minutes.

Most of the extra material is just useless filler — slightly longer scenes, extra reaction shots, second-unit footage — all the stuff that was properly cut out the first time, and adds nothing to the experience except making things take longer. But there are a handful of actual deleted scenes, like Krypton’s tinfoil science cop, who exploded before accomplishing anything.

There’s also another two minutes of this introductory Luthor scene, which aren’t necessary but offer several items of interest. If you don’t mind, I’m going to give you the whole scene, and then we can discuss it.

Continue reading Superman 1.48: Feed the Babies

Superman 1.21: Strangers on a Train

And he’s off, streaking across the screen in the film’s first true “how’d they do that” moment. Vastly underestimated teenage space monster Clark Kent isn’t allowed to kick footballs or attend age-appropriate social gatherings, so he’s expressing his frustration in a typically reckless way: using his super-speed to race with the Kansas Star, an occupied passenger train full of curious little girls with binoculars.

He hasn’t developed any catchphrases yet, so he doesn’t realize that it’s not supposed to be “faster than a locomotive” — it’s faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive. The dumb kid’s got it all mixed up.

Continue reading Superman 1.21: Strangers on a Train